The first overall pick in the NFL Draft is used on a player who has proven himself in the college ranks, and who is projected to have an outstanding, Hall-of-Fame caliber career. Of the last 12 first overall picks in the draft, 10 have been quarterbacks. The last four players selected– Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck– are all currently the faces of their respective franchises and have seen a great deal of success in their short stints as franchise quarterback. However, while these players are talented, they have not been largely polarizing figures. Luck leads the bunch in jersey sales, coming in at No. 20, and is the only one of these four in the top 25 jerseys sold, according to NFLshop.com.
In two seasons as the starting quarterback of the Texas A&M Aggies, Johnny Manziel has established himself as the most exciting player to watch in sports, rivaled by the likes of LeBron James and other fellow superstars. His unorthodox way of escaping pressure in the pocket, scrambling, uncanny vision and the ability to carry the football, have put him in a league above everyone else in the college football world. Through two seasons, he has accounted for an incredible 93 touchdowns—63 passing and 30 rushing—and a ridiculous 9,989 total yards—7,820 in the air and 2,169 on the ground. This season, he led the Aggies to a 9-4 record, including a Chick-Fil-A Bowl win, after an 11-2 record and Cotton Bowl victory a year ago.
Playing for coach Mark Smith at Kerrville Tivy High School in Kirrville Texas, he threw for 3,609 yards, 45 passing touchdowns to just five picks, had 1,674 yards rushing with 30 touchdowns and even had a receiving touchdown during his senior season.
The Houston Texans are in need of a face-lift, of sorts. Manziel, who has 720,289 followers and counting on Twitter, is arguably the most polarizing figure in all of sports, and would instantly become the face of the franchise. He gets all of the hot girls, hangs out with celebrities and somehow got his university to record him saying he’d love to party with Tiger Woods and Charlie Sheen and play it on the jumbotron during a home game.
How perfect would it be for the lifelong Texan to become the face of the Texans?
While Teddy Bridgewater, who in many eyes is the top-ranked quarterback in this year’s class, is outstanding, keep in mind, him, along with highly-rated Blake Bortles, played this past season in the American Athletic Conference, against defenses where maybe one player is a future NFL starter—if that. Manziel took on stiff SEC competition and many future first-round NFL picks, and absolutely slayed opposing defenses and put up video-game-like numbers, as displayed above.
The off the field “issues” involving signing his name on memorabilia, and partying, are the norm in the NFL, so there are no real problems there. I’m sure NFL players are up to many more “bad” habits than Johnny Football.
The questions of whether or not he will be able to take an NFL hit, whether his arm strength is superior enough and whether he will be able to be healthy are all valid ones. However, every prospect has major questions surrounding them going into the draft. I’d have many more questions about Bridgewater and Bortles than I would about Manziel, particularly about the strength of their collegiate opposition.
Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt are superstars of their own, and with the addition of Manziel, the Texans would add to their list, and replace the most important position in the NFL from the lowly ranks of Matt Shaub and Case Keenum to an instant starter and eventual superstar in Manziel.
Johnny Football is not just a nickname. It is a brand. It is a lifestyle for some. It is going to be inherited by a very lucky NFL team, who will not only be the recipient of a popular figure, but also, in my eyes, the best college football player to ever play the game. From a football and a marketing standpoint, the Texans would be stupid not to select Johnny Football with their No. 1 selection on May 8. If they do, look out for them to contend immediately next season under first-year head coach Bill O’Brien.